How familiar were you with the show before you started working on it?
Really familiar, actually. I had spent a lot of time in London just as the first season came on. I was doing a play in the West End for about four months and watching it all the time. Shortly thereafter I was introduced to David Walliams by a mutual friend, and we hit it off, became friends. Then I was directing a movie in London about a year ago, starring Simon Pegg, who's also friends with David, and we both had the idea of casting David in a cameo. Then I met Matt through David and Simon; it's a tight group of very funny people. I was flattered that they thought of me to be one of the directors when it came to the States.
Have they had to change anything in the writing style or anything in coming to America?
It's an opportunity for them to create some wonderful American characters, which they're doing. There's a great opportunity they have as Britons looking at America as outsiders to provide a kind of social commentary and satire that someone who lives here may not be able to. In addition, they're bringing some of their British characters to the States. I have to say there's one incredibly brilliant benefit that came out of transplanting a character like Carol Beer (played by David Walliams, the "computer says no" woman). Before, in the UK, her job was a travel agent. Now in the States, she works in reception at a hospital. I think it's a brilliant move because we in the States know just how frustrating the bureaucracy is at a hospital, and getting through that red tape. And also because it's a hospital, the stakes are suddenly so much higher for anyone coming in and needing help. I think a lot of the characters are going to benefit that way.
Of the American characters is there any one in particular that you are especially excited about?
I'm loving Matt's new character of the grandmother. Also David's character of the astronaut. They really have disappeared into these characters and they're amazing. And because it's hysterical in a broad way, I think the gym buddies are kind of incredible. I love how Sebastian, who was the assistant to the Prime Minister of Britain, is now the British Prime Minister and his terrible crush is now on the U.S. President, who's being played by Harry Lennix.